When I've written about books or movies on this site in the past, it's usually been because someone has sent me something to review or because I've wanted to share something I found entertaining or interesting.
This time is different.
Photographer Kip Fulbeck has just released Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids, a collection of photos of children who don't fit into the boxes that society (and census forms) used to insist on placing them in. The photographs are beautiful, and not just because the children are beautiful, resplendent in all colors. Fulbeck's lens captures the personalities behind the portraits: a boy and his guitar, a girl and her retainer, two twins dancing with joy. Most importantly, every child is an individual, every child -- save a few who are fussy -- is smiling and happy.
And that's what Fulbeck is trying to tell us. Sure, these children are all beautiful -- as you turn the pages you will be struck by honey-brown eyes, softly curling hair, and skin tones ranging from café au lait to warm cocoa. But beneath all of that, these are still just kids. (But don't just take my word for it, visit Fulbeck's website and click VIDEO to see some of the photographs and listen as Fulbeck describes his project.)
There was no book like this when I was a child. For much of my youth, the only biracial person in my life was the face looking back at me in the mirror, and I struggled with my cultural identity until I was almost thirty years old. I even rejected the "mixed" label, simply because I didn't like the way it sounded.
Because of all this, my wife and I were excited to take Alison, Henry, and Kate to an open call photo shoot for the book about a year ago. A few dozen families were there, and even though I had never met any of them before, they all seemed somewhat familiar. A black father would hand a musubi to his hungry child, a white mother would comb the kinks out of her daughter's nappy hair, and the air was filled with conversations describing intricate family trees. It was a blessing just to be in the room.
The book was released this week, and Alison's photo was included. (You can also see her in the video mentioned above.) What a difference a generation makes. When I was ten years old, I didn't know anyone else like me, but today my ten-year-old daughter's smiling face can be found on the pages of a book celebrating multi-racial children.